A transitional presidential council in Haiti on Wednesday moved one step closer to instating a new prime minister to help stabilize the gang-ridden nation as they wait for Kenyan police forces to arrive.

A months-long plan to send 1,000 police officers to Haiti was stalled in mid-March after Nairobi hit pause on the move following Haitian Prime Minster Ariel Henry’s abrupt resignation in an apparent attempt to end the immense gang violence that had swept the nation. 

Kenyan President William Ruto, who faced stiff backlash after he agreed to send forces to Port-au-Prince in a show of “strong commitment to Pan-Africanism,” said the plan would only resume after a new government was reinstated in Haiti.

Haitian police

Police officers take part in a confrontation with gangs near the National Palace in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Thursday March 21. (Reuters/Ralph Tedy Erol/TPX Images of the Day)

SECURITY CONCERNS, DEATH THREATS COMPLICATE COUNCIL’S APPOINTMENT OF INTERIM HAITIAN LEADER

Many in Haiti are now concerned that additional forces may not be coming to help rein in the gangs. 

“The Haitian police have the capacity to do it,” one Haitian man told Fox News Digital from Port-au-Prince. “The only thing is they have to be more organized, they need more equipment. They need the human resources.”

The man also argued that a strong military force is what is needed to suppress the extreme gang violence directed at not only government agencies but civilian Haitians living in the capital. 

“If they would send 1,000 military guys, I think that would be better because we don’t need police. We need guys that are military,” he said. “Here we’re in a war zone.”

Haiti unrest in Port-au-Prince

A man holds a machete while walking near a pile of burning mattresses near Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on March 20. (Reuters/Ralph Tedy Erol)

The transitional presidential council on Wednesday released its first statement pledging to restore “public and democratic order,” though it was signed by only eight members of what was originally supposed to be a nine-member council. 

“We are determined to alleviate the suffering of the Haitian people, trapped for too long between bad governance, multifaceted violence and disregard for their perspectives and needs,” the council said.

The statement also said that once the council is officially installed, it will “put Haiti back on the path of democratic legitimacy, stability and dignity.”

Henry has said he will officially resign his post after the transitional presidential council is formally established. 

Haiti Gangs

Violence has erupted in the neighborhood of Solino, in Haiti’s capital, as frantic residents have called in to radio stations to request help. (AP Photo/Odelyn Joseph)

But despite the statement from the council signaling a positive step forward in wrapping up an arduous nomination process, some in Kenya remain skeptical about sending their forces into such a precarious state. 

AMERICAN FAMILY IN HAITI DESCRIBES ‘WAR ZONE,’ BELIEVES IT WILL FALL TO GANGS IN A WEEK

A legal challenge was filed against the deployment of Kenyan police forces by opposition party Thirdway Alliance Kenya last year and the plan has faced several hurdles levied by Kenyans frustrated by Ruto’s agreement. 

“If they come back in body bags, what will [Kenyan President William Ruto] tell the nation?” opposition leader Ekuru Aukot questioned, according to a report by The Guardian. 

The severe uptick in violence this year, a unity agreement established by the gangs and the near complete takeover of the capital city of Port-au-Prince has prompted some in Nairobi to seriously question whether the agreement with Haiti should still stand. 

Haiti-PM-Return

Pedestrians walk past a soldier guarding the area of the international airport in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Monday, March 4, 2024. (AP Photo/Odelyn Joseph)

Kenyan authorities have pointed out that since the agreement was first reached in July of last year, there has been a “fundamental change in circumstances in Haiti” and a “complete breakdown of law and order.”

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Some police officers set for deployment have also begun dropping out following the spike in Port-au-Prince violence earlier this year, according to a BBC interview earlier this month. 

Kenya has not yet landed on an official timeline as to when it would deploy its police force to Haiti, even after the establishment of an interim government. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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